Lately, I was introduced to a number of books and blogs written about the demise of the evangelical church in North America.
I am interested in statistics and the changes that are occurring in the gatherings of congregations and I realize there are shrinking numbers in both memberships and attendance for many organizations… I also see a thriving trend in the lifestyle of believers.
Here are a number of observations I’ve made over the last few years…
Many people are taking responsibility for themselves in the area of discipleship, no longer relegating the job of inspiration or information to one pastor or a staff. These are people who find like-minded community and feed off of an array of available streams of teaching and training. Practically speaking, many families find it exhausting to get to church. Jobs and schedules make the matter even more complex and in the end, people weigh out what they really get and give from church attendance in comparison to what they can receive and participate in a less obstructive model. The world is their oyster in the area of developing methods of gaining what the traditional church used to hold a monopoly on.
In other conversations with folks, it is also apparent that there are some who really thrive in an environment of higher structure. For example, some feel the need for a service where they know what is coming before they enter the meeting. There is a growing contingency of people moving towards a liturgical congregation.
Some feel the need for teaching their children in a quality style Sunday School. There are more and more folks who desire their children to be engaged in a program, but see it as a goods and service provision. They pay a membership fee (Tithing) and the church in turn provides a service. This is typically why the larger churches who can afford paid staff often thrive, there is a market for doing what they do.
So what’s the point of writing this? In my reading of an array of blog articles and book reviews, I realize that there can be a negative overtone about the church today. I have no doubt that Jesus would have a few things to say to the current church (Re-read Revelation 2&3). We should all be open to the possibility of some fault in our methodology. AND…
I’m convinced that the church today is thriving, it’s just we have been trained to see it through our own traditions or expectations… Don’t skip this too fast… let that sink in.
It is Jesus who is building His church (Mt 16:18)… The day we live in is so free in allowing us to re-imagine how we participate in this holy matrimonial organism called The Church, we are adventurists in faith and life.
A few questions to get you thinking;
What do you expect to give in church community?
What do you expect to receive?
What do you think is the purpose of the church?